Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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mholloway
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Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by mholloway » Sat May 16, 2015 7:03 pm

I've been a beta tester for years. I was an alpha-level tester on version 9.

I can't, and won't, try to speak for anybody / everybody else. But purely in terms of my ongoing experience with Ableton Live, the reality is that it has become an unreliable mess, and doesn't seem to be improving in any notable ways.

I send in regular crash reports. I'm not somebody who wants to be negative, who is eager to cry foul. But this shit is getting ridiculous.

On my system, an iMac / 2.7GHz intel core i5, with 16 gig ram running OS 10.10.3 and Live 9.2b8 (though these problems have been going on for months and months, that's just my current setup), I deal with the following on an absolutely constant basis every time I use Live for any serious project:

1. the entire library resets itself and performs a new scan once or twice a month. Maybe that doesn't sound bad to you. But bear in mind: the scan takes about 2-3 hours to complete, and the majority of my carefully archived "user library" content is unavailable during that time. the library rescan means that basically everything goes blank in my user library, and slowly re-appears as the scan continues. naturally it only happens when Live is open, e.g. when I'm working. I do professional work (my band, video game music, other paid projects) in Live. Imagine sitting down to do a day of paid work, and your entire, meticulously archived user library of FX racks, Instrument Racks and clips - the stuff you draw from constantly when working, organized that way because you need it -- just disappears for three hours.

1b. The library is silly to begin with, and we all know it. The reason I make such extensive use of the user library in the first place (creating an elaborate folder hierarchy to organize all my racks, fx, clips, etc) is because that entire upper portion, the Live library, is an unusable joke. It sorts every goddamn thing into single tabs, e.g. "I want to look for an instrument", well ok, here are four thousand instruments to scroll through. Hope you have a keyword search in mind! If you want your organization system to be entirely founded on keyword searches, then perhaps this library system will work for you. Otherwise, good luck wading through thousands upon thousands (because live tags and adds to this content every time you save anything, and tags poorly, I might add) of arbitrary names trying to find what you want. And guess what, performing a search is the action most likely to cause the library re-scan in point #1 above.

2. I think this is only on Mac, but I've found it corroborated elsewhere online: the dreaded "UNKNOWN FILE ID" pop-up error that occurs, oh, about 70% of the time (sometimes 90%, it ebbs and flows, inexplicably) when you try to save something in the User Library. Think it doesn't matter? It does: most of the time, the file that is saved after you click "ok" in that error pop-up is a corrupted file. If you read my point #1, you know that I save Fx Racks, instruments Racks, and clips of all kinds into the User Library, all the time. Well, that is, I'd LIKE TO, but most of the time dragging something into the User Library results in, yep, "UNKNOWN FILE ID" popping up and I have to delete the screwed up file, and try again...and again... and again....

3. Live crashes. All the time. All. The. Time. It crashes so much I only bother to send about 1 out of 3 crash logs, because, well, I'm still sending multiple crash logs every day I use the program. Sure, a lot of these crashes might be the 'fault' of 3rd party plugins. I'm not fan of bitwig, have no plans to migrate in that direction, but at least those guys figure out a workaround to deal with the reality of crashing 3rd party plugins.

4. I just loaded an admittedly large session. On my not-shabby iMac it took about 10 minutes to get the thing open, and I could hear my HD chugging along the whole time. Other programs (chrome, for example) drastically slowed down to unusable levels during this time. Yeah, I know, I should have a music-only system and not run other programs, but still: this is poor. Maybe If I look deeper into this (and I will) this point is more about my system than Live, admittedly. I don't know yet. I just know it happens on loading large sets and it sucks.


Okay. Thanks, I needed to vent.

lately, for my band, I do composition in Maschine and then export all the sequences as audio to Adobe Audition. it's so nice, because Maschine is FAST (like Live, well, used to be) for creating sequences, and then Audition provides a wealth of audio editing tools (of which Live has implemented exactly zero, save I guess for the ability to reverse an audio file, yee-haw). But for film and video game work, that approach isn't deep enough, and I really really want to keep on using Live for those projects. But I waste too much damn time re: every point above, and I'm starting to look elsewhere. And that makes me sad.

-M
Last edited by mholloway on Tue May 19, 2015 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
my industrial music made with Ableton Live (as DEAD WHEN I FOUND HER): https://deadwhenifoundher.bandcamp.com/
my dark jazz / noir music made with Ableton Live: https://michaelarthurholloway.bandcamp. ... guilt-noir

Machinesworking
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by Machinesworking » Sat May 16, 2015 7:45 pm

I've always hated the Live browser. For me anyway, using OSX and sometimes Audio Finder works, Live's browser is slow and requires more mousing around, always IMO the weak part of Live, more mousing than other DAWs. I mostly use Live's browser to load in tracks for hardware synths and Racks.

Crashing wise, I'm not experiencing that. Live 9 isn't the most stable version, but not any less stable than Live has been for about 4 years now.

I feel you though, Ableton have changed company wise, and it's not all for the better.

cmreal04
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by cmreal04 » Sat May 16, 2015 7:49 pm

Hmmm very interesting. I gotta say, alotta this sounds all to familiar, back when I was running an iMac with the exact same specs. I had some serious meltdowns during a few sessions and finally said F**** it and bought a Mac Mini Server, based on an indirect recommendation from a reputable source. I'm happy to say I haven't had any issues since. It's pretty sad I had to take that route and drop that kind of cash, But I don't have much time as it is and just can't except troubleshooting 24/7.
Ableton 9, Feeltune Rhizome, Focusrite Pro, Mpk249....

pinkpaint
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by pinkpaint » Sat May 16, 2015 8:50 pm

Well

What I have to say is, I mean the Live 9.2 beta imo is an example of how ableton is moving forward in their weakest areas. Compensation has improved 99% for automation. The video that Ableton released a month or two ago on their dev culture and stuff shows that they are filled with people who certainly want to move the product forward. I'd imagine in a few years when Live 10 comes out we will see a lot of improvements as they have to improve to survive in this market. Logic is 200$ and is starting to look like a wicked program, many EDM pros are starting to use Studio One including hardwell, r3hab, headhunterz and others(v3 getting announced around the corner), Bitwig is certainly trying to say, hey were the better version of live, and while they certainly currently aren't there, they are showing progress. Somewhere along the line Ableton will compete with all of this, to think they aren't trying to send their product forward is a little naive.

As far as the browser goes, I've never experienced this reload in which you speak of, however, my ableton use has been slacking as of late as I have been attempting to jump ship to a DAW I will currently not disclose as I dont want to sound biased. What I will agree on though, is all the dumb shit that you have to sort through in the browser. Ableton knows this, they improved their browser incredibly from live 8 to live 9 though lets not forget, again, they are moving forward, they can't just change the whole program in one day, 99% of people wouldn't be cool with that.

What I will say, if you do attempt to jump ship, it does make you realize what ableton is golden at and horrible at, it may make you want to get back on the ableton forever or leave it completely. its always good to demo other products if your as frustrated as you seem to be with ableton.

Machinesworking
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by Machinesworking » Sat May 16, 2015 9:17 pm

pinkpaint wrote:What I will agree on though, is all the dumb shit that you have to sort through in the browser. Ableton knows this, they improved their browser incredibly from live 8 to live 9 though lets not forget, again, they are moving forward, they can't just change the whole program in one day, 99% of people wouldn't be cool with
Plenty of room for debate about whether the browser was killed or improved from 8 to 9, and that's an understatement.

Honestly I would like to know what people think is better about it? :?

It couldn't be the ability to browse through any hard drive on your system, because that's fucking gone. :x

oblique strategies
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by oblique strategies » Sat May 16, 2015 9:34 pm

mholloway wrote: On my system, an iMac / 2.7GHz intel core i5, with 16 gig ram running OS 10.10.3 and Live 9.2b8 (though these problems have been going on for months and months, that's just my current setup)
Do you have a Fusion drive in your iMac? I don't recall the details, but Fusion drives can cause problems for digital audio. If you search for it you can turn up more info.

Max for Live is another culprit for instability.

Have you contacted Ableton Support to open a dialog with them? They can be very helpful.

Sorry to hear of your woes, it does sound like a nightmare.

pencilrocket
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by pencilrocket » Sun May 17, 2015 4:35 am

Why not keep using Live 8?
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mholloway
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by mholloway » Mon May 18, 2015 6:31 am

Re: Fusion drive -- nope, not using one.

Re: Live 8... hmmm not the worst notion, but how stable will it be on Yosemite, I wonder...
my industrial music made with Ableton Live (as DEAD WHEN I FOUND HER): https://deadwhenifoundher.bandcamp.com/
my dark jazz / noir music made with Ableton Live: https://michaelarthurholloway.bandcamp. ... guilt-noir

pinkpaint
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by pinkpaint » Mon May 18, 2015 7:22 am

Are you sure your not moving files around on your hard drive or updating them constantly? this explains the rescan if your not moving stuff around and updating it massively idk what is causing you three hours, I have ableton on three setups (all mac yosemite, one very old laptop, one iMac, and one mac pro) depending on where I work for the day I use a mac pro or iMac but i do a lot of work at home on my bad laptop, and I even update my sample libraries on all three and I dont experience anything like this. I have around 20 GB in drum samples as I'm always updating and sharing with people I work with.

To update what I said before, I guess try a version of ableton that worked for you wether it is 8 or what not, if not try another daw, either way ableton will move forward with updates so dont just think they've hit a brick wall.

Stromkraft
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by Stromkraft » Mon May 18, 2015 9:43 am

First of all you're on a beta, so I'm surprised you don't address this. I'm on the beta too. On Mavericks still though.
mholloway wrote:
1. the entire library resets itself and performs a new scan once or twice a month…
1b. The library is silly to begin with, and we all know it.
I never experience this library reset, but I'm with you that the library could be way more useful in structure. That you can't delete factory presets easily is a disgrace.
mholloway wrote:
2. I think this is only on Mac, but I've find it corroborated elsewhere online: the dreaded "UNKNOWN FILE ID" pop-up error that occurs, oh, about 70% of the time (sometimes 90%, it ebbs and flows, inexplicably) when you try to save something in the User Library.…
While I've experienced this a few times (funnily enough the last time I took part in a discussion about it), it doesn't happen that often to me.
mholloway wrote: 3. Live crashes. All the time. All. The. Time. …
I have had my share of crashes, but they are quite rare, also in the beta version. When I did have some serious issues recently I talked to support and their excellent advice got me to a non-crash streak again.
mholloway wrote:4. I just loaded an admittedly large session. On my not-shabby iMac it took about 10 minutes to get the thing open, and I could hear my HD chugging along the whole time…
Given my system boots cold in 10 seconds the load times of Live are just ridiculous and need to be addressed.
Make some music!

phaded
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by phaded » Mon May 18, 2015 5:17 pm

mholloway wrote:I've been a beta tester for years. I was an alpha-level tester on version 9.

I can't, and won't, try to speak for anybody / everybody else. But purely in terms of my ongoing experience with Ableton Live, the reality is that it has become an unreliable mess, and doesn't seem to be improving in any notable ways.

I send in regular crash reports. I'm not somebody who wants to be negative, who is eager to cry foul. But this shit is getting ridiculous.

On my system, an iMac / 2.7GHz intel core i5, with 16 gig ram running OS 10.10.3 and Live 9.2b8 (though these problems have been going on for months and months, that's just my current setup), I deal with the following on an absolutely constant basis every time I use Live for any serious project:

1. the entire library resets itself and performs a new scan once or twice a month. Maybe that doesn't sound bad to you. But bear in mind: the scan takes about 2-3 hours to complete, and the majority of my carefully archived "user library" content is unavailable during that time. the library rescan means that basically everything goes blank in my user library, and slowly re-appears as the scan continues. naturally it only happens when Live is open, e.g. when I'm working. I do professional work (my band, video game music, other paid projects) in Live. Imagine sitting down to do a day of paid work, and your entire, meticulously archived user library of FX racks, Instrument Racks and clips - the stuff you draw from constantly when working, organized that way because you need it -- just disappears for three hours.

1b. The library is silly to begin with, and we all know it. The reason I make such extensive use of the user library in the first place (creating an elaborate folder hierarchy to organize all my racks, fx, clips, etc) is because that entire upper portion, the Live library, is an unusable joke. It sorts every goddamn thing into single tabs, e.g. "I want to look for an instrument", well ok, here are four thousand instruments to scroll through. Hope you have a keyword search in mind! If you want your organization system to be entirely founded on keyword searches, then perhaps this library system will work for you. Otherwise, good luck wading through thousands upon thousands (because live tags and adds to this content every time you save anything, and tags poorly, I might add) of arbitrary names trying to find what you want. And guess what, performing a search is the action most likely to cause the library re-scan in point #1 above.

2. I think this is only on Mac, but I've find it corroborated elsewhere online: the dreaded "UNKNOWN FILE ID" pop-up error that occurs, oh, about 70% of the time (sometimes 90%, it ebbs and flows, inexplicably) when you try to save something in the User Library. Think it doesn't matter? It does: most of the time, the file that is saved after you click "ok" in that error pop-up is a corrupted file. If you read my point #1, you know that I save Fx Racks, instruments Racks, and clips of all kinds into the User Library, all the time. Well, that is, I'd LIKE TO, but most of the time dragging something into the User Library results in, yep, "UNKNOWN FILE ID" popping up and I have to delete the screwed up file, and try again...and again... and again....

3. Live crashes. All the time. All. The. Time. It crashes so much I only bother to send about 1 out of 3 crash logs, because, well, I'm still sending multiple crash logs every day I use the program. Sure, a lot of these crashes might be the 'fault' of 3rd party plugins. I'm not fan of bitwig, have no plans to migrate in that direction, but at least those guys figure out a workaround to deal with the reality of crashing 3rd party plugins.

4. I just loaded an admittedly large session. On my not-shabby iMac it took about 10 minutes to get the thing open, and I could hear my HD chugging along the whole time. Other programs (chrome, for example) drastically slowed down to unusable levels during this time. Yeah, I know, I should have a music-only system and not run other programs, but still: this is poor. Maybe If I look deeper into this (and I will) this point is more about my system than Live, admittedly. I don't know yet. I just know it happens on loading large sets and it sucks.
+1000 to all of this really...

To me this is all the more glaring because I use Reaper post-sequencing for mixdowns. I can throw twice (or more) of whatever, be it tracks or plugins, and it will perform rock solid damn near til the cpu is maxed. And it takes seconds to load/unload HUGE projects- I'm talking 100+ tracks if you're counting bus/parallel routing, etc, and a heap of plugins on top of that. If there is a problem with a crash in Reaper, its usually due to a specific plug, and even then there are options for running as a separate/dedicated process! Just rock solid.

Now to be clear, I still do sound des / sequencing, etc in Live. I also temper my expectations for Live 'matching' Reaper's performance because I know there are probably things under the hood that have to be optimized for the performance aspect of Live that the dev's for Reaper do not have to worry about. They aren't apples to apples in that sense.

But...

For Ableton to be on V9+, the load times and instability are just absolutely inexcusable. I haven't the slightest how Live 9 made it out of it's original beta in hindsight. The Dual-Monitor addition, proper PDC should have been hammered out then. Whatever the heck they are doing right now in beta to take it to 9.2b9 should have probably been hammered out then as well.

Looking back, the upside of upgrading to L9 was that they tossed a bone for Suite users with adding Max and the extensive sample packs (no idea what incentive there was for regular users) But even Max in-use has been fiddly as hell (to put it lightly). One of the biggest things I had been looking forward to were the native Convolution Verbs in M4L, but dear god to I avoid them like the Taylor Swift songs now. Crash city. Plugin instability from user developed M4L devices? I can understand that... but for those that are packaged for download out of the Ableton user area? Not so much.

It really seems, at least to me, like everyone has participating in a paid beta of Live 9 since its release while the dev team gets it's sh*t together. Think about it... its been 2 freaking years now! Never had these issues prior to L9, and my desktop is a beast compared to what I used 2 years prior. It's just ridiculous that I'm waiting for the DAW I use to catch up.

Like many, I'm admittedly not ready to jump ship... but lets just say the competition has gotten more attractive in the past year or so. Simply for the sake of wanting to get a damn track done without budgeting time for loads/crashes is about enough reason for me to take on the learning curve of a new DAW.

I really hope they nail 9.2, and not wait to really give us the goods in L10. Will certainly be a little more patience in reaching for my wallet when the next upgrade comes around, that's for sure. :x

/end rant

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mholloway
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by mholloway » Mon May 18, 2015 6:56 pm

In retrospect the concurrent release of V.9 and Push should have (or maybe was, for many) a huge warning sign that the company was going to be focusing on their new toy, rather than on creating a stable piece of software. I have no idea how the workload gets spread around the Live office, but I do wonder how much of this stuff would have been fixed / improved a couple years ago, if it weren't for all the time and attention going to Push... in the beta-testing, there have been multiple 'new' versions that did nothing but address Push issues. but, anyway, useless thinking, I know. Just unfortunate.
my industrial music made with Ableton Live (as DEAD WHEN I FOUND HER): https://deadwhenifoundher.bandcamp.com/
my dark jazz / noir music made with Ableton Live: https://michaelarthurholloway.bandcamp. ... guilt-noir

rtcardinal
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by rtcardinal » Mon May 18, 2015 7:15 pm

Yep. It's gotten pretty sluggish, and I hope something is done about it. Time is money for me in this case, unfortunately. And Live is my primary tool.
Even dragging in simple effect racks with native devices in pretty modest sessions can cause things to choke up for 10-15 seconds for me, on both OS X and Windows, on 3 different machines/configs. Sometimes its quite a bit longer than that, even when the browser isn't indexing. Even things like reorganizing tracks can just chuggggggggggggg. I don't recall this even happening on earlier versions of Live 9. Definitely not in late versions of Live 8.
Large sessions (even though my PC isn't taxed hard for disk, RAM, or CPU) get super tedious and sluggish to navigate. This is on a 3930k 6 core running at 4.6 ghz with speed stepping off, and 32 gigs of RAM, well maintained SSDs for all of my library and app stuff. Every other app I use runs faster than I can keep up with. Live is the only one I have to wait on when I'm working.
I had to jump in to a very large session in Live 8 to help someone with their live rig, and it was actually shocking how much smoother it was, despite having nearly 200 tracks, routing all over the place, racks within racks within racks... Throw anything max for live in to the mix, and it gets even more sluggish.
I like that Ableton have be doing some under the hood stuff in the recent Live 9 updates (Hurray for automation delay compensation!), but overall performance seems to be getting worse.
I've given up using it on OS X entirely (for a lot of reasons). It's been a downward spiral for a few years now for me. Since mavericks I've been having all sorts of issues with CPU throttling under load (doesn't always step up, so I get CPU inconsistency... not an option for performing). The exact same session runs with lower CPU usage, better stability, and loads a lot quicker in windows on the same hardware.
The tides have shifted massively for me over the last 3 years.

bwax
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by bwax » Mon May 18, 2015 7:36 pm

OP, I feel your pain. I really do. I've been working on an album for 3 years that is very much tied into Ableton. If I wasn't so deep into finishing this damn thing, I would have given up and found another DAW by now.

0. I really agree with mholloway and phaded, 100%, as my experience with Ableton Live has been near identical. If you want the quick version, then you can just stop reading here.

1. The basics - I'm 40 years old. Been working with visual art and music programs since 1996. I've used Ableton Live off and on since v1. I use a 27" imac, 8GB RAM, can't remember the processor speed but I know it's an i5 mid-2011 release, Mavericks OS.

2. It pains me to say this, but Ableton Live 9 is by far the most frustratingly unstable, untrustworthy, unreliable mess I have ever used. There is not even a remote second place in the running. I will balance that with saying it has some incredible ideas in it and I respect the different workflow that they invented, and some days I really enjoy it, despite the sluggish and sloppy performance. But... for the most part, I hold my breath every time I drag something into a track, or hit save, or delete a device, or copy a clip... or anything! In other words, I never know what will happen.

3. Having said that, I suspect a large part of the instability is due to Max4Live, but I'm not in a position right now to test this (I am in the middle of finishing a longterm project that uses many Max4Live devices). Convolution reverb, Dub Machines, etc. are great sounding devices, but wow do they do bad things to stability and performance.

4. I wonder why Ableton seems to be the only program I use that has gotten progressively more unstable over time, to the point of ridiculously poor. Maybe I just don't remember it, but I don't recall feeling this way about Live in the early days. I cannot believe I have paid lots of cash over the years to be a beta tester for a software program that has gotten steadily worse, not better.

5. I think Ableton is building a serious amount of bad will by not addressing the stability of their software in an open honest way. I know they have extremely smart people working there, obviously. I truly don't understand why stability isn't more of a priority.

6. This is just a hobby for me, but I take it seriously and devote an extremely large amount of effort and time to it (not to mention money). I honestly cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to use Ableton Live when income depends upon it. I am very sorry for people in that situation. It shouldn't be like that.

7. If anyone else has found a more reliable tool than Ableton Live, yet has some of the spark and inventiveness of Live, I'd love to hear about it. Because I have grown too disillusioned to work with Ableton anymore after this project is complete. I have heard good things about Reaper, but really not looking forward to starting over with another DAW.

8. I have heard good things about a new tuner device coming soon. Awesome. I can tune my guitar so I'll have something to play while Ableton reboots.

9. One more thing... honestly can't imagine anyone using this software to play a live show in front of a demanding audience. That must take nerves of steel. Naming this software "Live" is almost a cruel joke at this point.

10. I'm done whining and being mean to poor Ableton. I want them to succeed. I want them to turn the ship around. But damn, my blood pressure goes up every time I think about that interface now, and the inevitable little mac "candy wheel" spinning away, over and over and over. Arrrgghh.

Stromkraft
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Re: Ableton Live has become an unreliable mess.

Post by Stromkraft » Mon May 18, 2015 8:24 pm

bwax wrote: 9. One more thing... honestly can't imagine anyone using this software to play a live show in front of a demanding audience. That must take nerves of steel. Naming this software "Live" is almost a cruel joke at this point.
Live Performance is actually at the heart of the matter. People keep referring to that Live does unique things that warrants it requiring more resources. But if OS X, for example, is stealing CPU cycles — which I think can be a reality under too common circumstances — that renders the whole application unreliable for stable audio, then why can't Live itself turn off the services that disturbs performance? Why must the user look for offending processes?

And why is it that loading, deleting and moving stuff around takes so long time and is this issue scheduled to be fixed? We must ask Ableton about this, if we want to to know.

Currently I have a stable OS X 10.9 and a stable Windows 7 system. In the studio we have a super stable OS X 10.10 system. I worked hard keeping these stable. There seem to be a list of rules spread out that potentially can keep a system stable, but that's not good enough actually.
Make some music!

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